Psychology of Social Media

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Social media, including sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, have become a central feature of our everyday lives. How is our use of social media impacting our well-being? How is it changing our relationships with friends and family? And what is the relationship between social media use and mental health? This course will tackle these complex questions by evaluating psychological research on this topic. Through lecture, discussion, and interactive assignments, students will learn about current evidence, theory, and controversies in the field, and will consider the role of social media in their own lives.

This course will provide an overview of research on social media and digital technology, with an emphasis on the psychosocial implications of use. Relevant theories from the fields of developmental psychology and media effects will provide a starting point for engaging with this material. Our exploration will be rooted in an understanding of study design in psychological science. Students will learn to critically evaluate research studies and to identify the challenges of conducting research on social media use.

We will examine current evidence for the effects of social media use on peer, romantic, and family relationships, as well as the intersection of social media with mental and physical health. Current controversies related to cybervictimization, social media “addiction,” parental mediation, “Facebook depression,” and other well-publicized issues will be discussed. Material will be covered through a combination of lectures, whole class and small group discussions, and experiential activities. Readings will primarily consist of scientific journal articles, including empirical studies, as well as systematic, meta-analytic, and theoretical reviews. Students will be asked to demonstrate knowledge of course concepts through a series of short written assignments and a group presentation.

1. Obtain a broad understanding of current evidence for the role of social media in psychosocial health and well-being
2. Provide exposure to current controversies and theories in social media-related fields
3. Gain foundational knowledge of reading, evaluating, and understanding psychological studies
4. Develop college-level skills in critical thinking and writing, particularly as it relates to psychology research
5. Generalize course concepts through application to real-world and personal experiences

Prerequisites: None

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPY0964
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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